Gaddafi 'accepts' ceasefire roadmap
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Gaddafi 'accepts' ceasefire roadmap

Col Gaddafi outside his tent in Tripoli yesterday.

Col Gaddafi outside his tent in Tripoli yesterday.

A delegation of African leaders said last night that their Libyan counterpart, Muammar Gaddafi, had accepted their "road map" for a ceasefire with rebels.

They met Gaddafi hours after Nato airstrikes battered his tanks, helping Libyan rebels push back government troops who had been advancing quickly toward the opposition's eastern stronghold.

The African Union's road map calls for an immediate cease-fire, cooperation in opening channels for humanitarian aid and starting a dialogue between the rebels and the government.

AU officials, however, made no mention of any requirement for Gaddafi to pull his troops out of cities as rebels have demanded.

"We have completed our mission with the brother leader, and the brother leader's delegation has accepted the road map as presented by us," said South African President Jacob Zuma.

He travelled to Tripoli with the heads of Mali and Mauritania to meet with Gaddafi, whose more than 40-year rule has been threatened by the uprising that began nearly two months ago.

"We will be proceeding to meet the other party to talk to everybody and present a political solution," Mr Zuma said, speaking at Gaddafi's private Tripoli compound, Bab al-Aziziya. He called on Nato to end airstrikes to "give the ceasefire a chance".

Gaddafi has ignored the ceasefire he announced after international airstrikes were authorised last month, and he rejects demands from the rebels, the US and its European allies that he relinquish power immediately.

Ramtane Lamamra of Algeria, the head of the AU's Peace and Security Council, said the demand to give up power was brought up in yesterday's talks with the Libyan leader.

"There was some discussion on this but I cannot report on this. It has to remain confidential. It's up to the Libyan people to chose their leaders democratically," he told reporters in Tripoli.

Gaddafi enjoys substantial support from countries of the AU, an organisation that he chaired two years ago and helped transform using Libya's oil wealth. So it is not clear whether rebels would accept the AU as a fair broker.

Though the AU has condemned attacks on civilians, last week its current leader, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, decried foreign intervention in Libya's nearly two-month-old uprising, which he declared to be an internal problem.

Mr Lamamra was confident the rebel leadership would accept the AU's proposal when the delegation presents it to them today.

"We are convinced that what we have proposed is broad enough to be a base for the launch of peace talks. We are people of goodwill and determined to help Libya overcome this crisis," he said.

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